I’d been wanting to write about John York for at least a year, and probably longer; I first saw him perform in 2007. The longtime local musician was in a famous band, the Byrds, albeit after their hit-making days were past. Finally, he’s the subject of Wednesday’s column in advance of a benefit concert Saturday at the Claremont Forum.
Ellen Harper runs Claremont’s famed Folk Music Center, a music shop established by her parents in 1958. At 71, she’s released her first solo record. I like it. I profile her in my Wednesday column.
A new book, “The Big Note,” chronicles all 1,663 Frank Zappa recordings, including a few from his Inland Valley years. It’s for diehards only. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by reader reactions to my column last month about not being to ride a bike, a Culture Corner and a Valley Vignette.
Let me tell you about the photo that accompanies the column. After deciding Tuesday morning on deadline to lead with the Zappa item, I was faced with how to illustrate a column about a book. For online purposes, we are pretty much limited to horizontal photos, as a vertical photo takes up about a foot of space and looks too funky. So a photo of strictly the cover was out. What to do, what to do…
Suddenly, a brainstorm: I would use the giant, vintage map on the wall by my desk as a backdrop. Without leaving my chair, I held up the book and positioned it to get both Pomona and Cucamonga’s names in the frame. (The map stops short of Ontario.) It took three frames, as the first one had my thumb over the author’s name (see above) and the second had too much glare off the shiny cover. Secrets behind the columns!
Tweeting live from Coachella, my colleague Liset Marquez reports that in Sunday’s appearance, Cold War Kids singer Nathan Willett introduced “Drive Desperate” this way: “I just wanna say, we namecheck Pomona in this song.” The crowd, alas, did not go wild. (If they had, I would have a book to recommend.)
The lyrics, from their 2014 album “Hold My Home,” begin like this: “The road/a yellow line unfolds/Jagged then corrodes/Pomona first of all/Machines they rush in a trance…”
I can’t really tell you what it’s about, certainly driving, maybe street racing? The band formed in Fullerton, by the way, and is based in Long Beach. Anyway, no video from Coachella is available, but above is the band performing the song at another festival, Lollapalooza, in 2015.
Wednesday’s column revisits the matter of Frank Zappa’s apparent attendance at Claremont High in the early 1950s — with the discovery of a yearbook with his signature in it. Other pieces of Zappa information are also explored.
As is well documented, Frank Zappa lived in Ontario in the early 1960s, near the musicians’ store Ontario Music. But it was still cool to see these business cards unearthed by his son Dweezil recently and posted on Twitter.
Friday’s column presents some news that surprised me: Not only did the Eagles (whose founding member Glenn Frey died this week) perform in Ontario in 1974 and 2010, but they rehearsed for their 2013-15 world tour here too, in secrecy. I’ve also got a couple of Culture Corner items and word of an O’Day Short tribute event.
Sunday’s column marks a footnote in music history: the day Frank Zappa’s band adopted the name the Mothers, later to become the Mothers of Invention, before a gig in Pomona. That occurred May 9, 1965 — 50 years ago.
Above, the former Broadside Club, top, seen in 2000 by Zappa fan Peter Mackay, and a current view by yours truly; below, the Sportsman Tavern, again by Mackay in 2000 and yours truly today. Their significance is explained in the column. Neither bar was open in 2000, having closed decades before, but at least the buildings look closer to their original form then.
Incidentally, the Frank Zappa Chronology (disclamatory motto: “Information is Not Knowledge”) was invaluable in fixing dates and locations.
Claudia Lennear, right, talks about her musical experiences Saturday with KSPC-FM’s DJ Ike Rhythm (as station general manager Erica Tyron handles the sound duties). This took place on the stage at Claremont’s Rhino Records. Were you there? A few dozen of us were, and the talk was fascinating. Lennear, you’ll recall, was a ’60s and ’70s backup singer who was featured in the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” and she lives in Pomona.
Friday’s column is a paean to the 1989 Beastie Boys album that came out 25 years ago today. There’s even a local angle: the Dust Brothers, who co-produced, met at the Claremont radio station in 1985.
You might say this column has been in the works for years. I learned about the duo’s Claremont connection back in 1998 or so when researching notable people who attended school in the Inland Valley. A year ago, I read the “33 1/3” book on “Paul’s Boutique,” which goes into great detail on its making and tells about the KSPC connection. But that was around the time of the album’s 24th anniversary. (In hip-hop terms, the timing was ill.) So I took notes on a paper napkin (!) of page numbers for easy reference, put the napkin in the book and made a note on my calendar for 2014, learning delightedly that the anniversary coincided with a column day.
And here I am with a column. See, I only make it look easy.